It sounds all too familiar: a smear campaign against a presidential candidate suddenly swarming social media right before voters head to the polls. It happened this year in Kenya—and the company that led the attacks had ties to the campaign for President Donald Trump.
Harris Media, a Texas-based, far-right media company, created websites to manipulate search and social media results in favor of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the country's August vote, a report released Thursday by Privacy International found.
Harris Media created one online campaign named “The Real Raila” to attack Raila Odinga, Kenyatta’s rival candidate. A second campaign called “Uhuru for Us” sought to highlight the incumbent leader’s accomplishments. Both were intended to dominate Google results with the intention of swinging public opinion in Kenyatta's favor, the report said.
The media company reportedly used AdWords in Google searches to disseminate targeted advertising through social media platforms. The ads contained inflammatory claims against Odinga, arguing that his administration “would remove whole tribes,” while the Real Raila website republished dubious reports characterizing Odinga as a racist and xenophobe.
The report added that Harris Media tapped into Kenya’s troubled past by choosing imagery and videos that depicted ethnic violence.
Read Privacy International's full report here: http://v.duta.us/ZOR7gAAA